Head Coach Pete Carroll Discusses the Upcoming Game Against UCLA
Nov. 29, 2005
'We feel very fortunate to be in this situation at this time of the year. To go into the last game with a tremendous opportunity that we face, with cross-town rival UCLA. It is a beautiful time to be coaching, and playing football. We couldn't be more exciting to be in the position we are in. Coming off of last week and the work we accomplished last week, and just feeling the guys yesterday, we had a great start on Monday. The energy was perfect, we flew around the field and got the things done we wanted to get done. Made the coaches feel that the guys are ready to put together a great week. The situation that we all hope for, in our program we always want to give ourselves to get in that Rose Bowl. This year it takes on a little bit different significance, but yet the line has always been the same. The goal in this program has always been to own the Rose Bowl and to do that you have to win your conference. It just happens that every few years it changes what that game is about. It is really exciting and we are pumped up about it and we can't wait to get going. There is another issue here, over our shoulder here is the gauntlet, at one point I thought it looked like Darth Vader's glove. It is a great symbol for the competition that goes on all year long, and a rivalry situation that everyone participates in. It has been fun for us, and there is a lot of points riding on this game, so we are excited about representing our sport and doing a good job for the effort to get the thing back.'
On the BCS
'I haven't been that moved from the whole situation in the past going into it. I feel about the same. I was asked on a conference call here, what do you think about this scenario and that scenario. I can't even comment, I don't know how it works it yet. I don't know how it would respond to what happens this weekend. So I do know this, if we win this weekend we would probably play them in the Rose Bowl. That is all we know right now and whatever else happens, happens. The BCS people are probably a little happier with this right now with the scrutiny. I don't have much to add about this whole situation with the BCS.'
On Drew Olson
'This is a high powered offense. They rolled all year long. They have been in difficult situations a number of times where they have been well behind and come roaring back and finished games with big finishes, big plays. The kinds of games that give you tremendous confidence and play and performance that gives you confidence. The QB has been awesome. He has had a great season. The touchdowns to the number of picks is just a remarkable number for anybody at anytime. He has a had a lot of guys coming at him trying to get that ball away from him, trying to knock him down and force bad plays and he won't let it happen. He is very poised, very much in command of what they are doing. There are guys making plays around him, with a really good running game. They have a really big time offense with great confidence coming in I am sure. We will have our hands full with this one. This is a really good group.'
On Maurice Drew
'I think he is a fantastic player. I have loved the way he plays since he was in high school. I saw him as a junior and thought he was extremely unique. His stature, his speed, his instincts, his toughness make him a very, very special football player. They have used him well on returns, and catching the football as well. He is a tremendous football player that really stands alone right now I think because he is such a unique body type. We really think that he is one of the guys that can make a difference in this game and has done it all year long for them. '
Can see development in Drew Olson from this year to last year
'I mean just compare the numbers. The guy is maturing and getting to the time of his career where he is most affective. He has got the system inside continuity and the players around him that can make the plays. It is just like any quarterback; they can only do so much. They have to have guys around him. They have to have protection and guys that can catch the ball and it is great to have a running game. He has benefited from all of those things and complemented every aspect of that as well. He moves well, he makes good decisions, he runs well when he has to, deep ball, quick game, off play pass stuff, everything that they do he does well. He is playing as good as anybody in the country.'
How it could be a close game like Fresno State
'I never ever think of games that way, I don't approach them in that matter , and don't think of it happening in that way. You deal with it when you have to. It takes awhile for that to happen, so all the time it hasn't happened in a game I am thinking that way. I don't go in thinking that way. We are going to try to move the ball as well as we can on offense, score as much as we can and hold them down and see what happens. As always will be the case it will always be about the football and which creates the big plays and gets the field positions and we will do a better job then they do taking care of the ball. They have been very stingy about giving the ball up so that is a big chore. That is how we will go into this game and that is the way we go into every game.'
What makes the USC-UCLA week different
'The energy is different, you can feel it. It is part of the reason, it is so obvious you don't need to make a big deal about it, you can just sense it. You can feel it in this room you can feel it around the media conversations and on the practice field and people trying to get to our practice and people trying to get tickets for this game, and on and on and on. It is an ongoing kind of energy that flows during this week and it makes it kind of fun.'
How Pete has never lost to UCLA
'I like that. How does it make me feel, it doesn't make me feel very good that it happened in the past right now. I don't care about what happened in the past, it is about getting ready this week and it is nice when the game is over and you get a win and you have been able to maintain over your cross town team. I can't tell you I don't like it I like it a lot. We are working real hard to hold on to that. What happened in the past doesn't have anything to do with what is going on right now. That is real obvious to me and it always has been. So we have a chance to go do something good again and lets see if we can do that and lets look back on it after it is over.'
How this is the last home game for the seniors
'I think this is the one factor in the game that is unique. Other than the fact that it is a big match up and all, I think it is unique that the seniors are playing their last game in particular the last game at home. I have already approached our guys and I don't want that to factor into the way they play. I like the way they played last week and the week before that and the last couple of years. So the fact that it is their last game there will be a moment in there when they realize it. I don't want that to affect the way they perform. They won't be happy about that either. I am not asking them to play better than they have ever played before, I want them to play like they are capable of playing. When it is over we will sit down and feel what it feels like to be walking out of the Coliseum as a player for the last time. It is a big deal. It is a real big deal and we have to deal with it well and not let it factor into the performance of the game. We like the way our guys play. I don't want that to change. I don't know, a couple of years ago I was walking down the tunnel with Ronnie Lott, prior to a game. I asked him if this was still a big deal to him. He said, still a big deal, this is the biggest deal of my life in football is walking down this tunnel here and playing at the Coliseum. This is a guy who has won world championships and played all over the world and football and it is just a statement about what this opportunity to be at USC means. To have endured it and been here as a player and to make it a part of your personal history, it is a very, very special time. It is unfortunate that it ever has to come to an end. We have to deal with that and not let it factor into our performance right now.'
How this rivalry is different
'Growing up in California it was always a great rivalry. Watching the game for years when you are a little kid. As a matter of fact the first time I ever had a chance to go out of my area when I grew up to see a big game with my team down here, I saw the game when UCLA plays at the Coliseum, the one when Sam Dickson makes the catch in the end zone. I was sitting seven rows from the top on the opposite end, I had no idea what was going on, you couldn't even see it across the field. That was because growing up it was that enormous of a spectacle and I just wanted to be apart of it. Right after my senior year and high school we came down and watched this game, and it was a big deal. It was awesome. It has always been that way. It is California. To be this big of a deal as a native Californian and to see everyone get so pumped up about college football I love this time of year. I think if we could fill up both stadiums we would. We would get 200 thousand people to come to these games. It is just that big of a deal. I think for Californians to rally for college football with all the other things that everybody does it is a great statement of their loyalty and love for this match up. I am so proud do be apart of it and thrilled to have a chance to coach in this game.'
On preventing the team from feeling let down after a big game
'Well, I think our chance to hold onto this level of play over a long period of time goes to our ability to hold onto our principals that we talk about day in and day out in the program. Some people would look at our philosophy and say that we would down play a game like this and we wouldn't make it a special opportunity. We only get to play 12 games a year. 12 times out of all of the time out of the millions of hours we spend focusing on this we get 12 times to go do this. I think we can make every single game world class, championship, super bowl, national championship type atmosphere. In the approach and the intensity and the focus we bring to it. This is the biggest game we could possibly play in this week and we are thrilled about it. This is the way we try to focus every single day we go to practice. Whether it is spring or fall practice or a bye week or whatever. We hopefully we have trained our guys to generate the maximum focus you can turn towards an event by doing it on a regular basis. We don't try to just do this on Friday night. We hope to hold this level of intensity of focus and commitment every single time we try to do anything. Most people say you cant do that. That you can only get up a couple of times a year. I think that is the biggest pile of crap I have ever heard. You can get jacked up every single day if you want to. You just have to set your mind to it and go about organizing yourself to get that done. We have been trying to do that since the first day we stepped foot on this campus. Whether that is what is going on or not, I don't know, but that is how we go about it. This opportunity is an enormous opportunity for us, but we are going to deal with it the way we always deal with it. We are not going to do anything different, we are not going to change the way we do stuff because we are already trying to max out on everything we do, so if there was another way I could max something out I would figure that out and try to do that. I would do it today if I could think of it. I try to explain that. You ask that question a lot. I think it is the discipline of the appreciation of the opportunity that is sitting right in front of you, and being focused to see that this day is all we can deal with and this is all we can make use of and squeeze every drop out of every opportunity. That is what we are going to try to do with this game.'
On dealing with egos of players
'Well, all of those normal human attributes are there, they are in our locker room just like they are in anyone else's, but what governce the way you act is the conscience that you have. If you have a conscience about your team, that your team is number one and you understand intellectually that doesn't serve your team really well to act like that, it draws against what you are trying to do. Then you will have a discipline about the way that you speak and the talk that you use around the locker room and what you say to your friends. Then you are not able to go there because it doesn't fit. Guys think the thoughts, gosh I wish I could get the ball more. I have tried to talk talk to them, I want to hear when they are feeling like that, I don't want to try to sense it. When they have that feeling and they are able to let it out in a closed session when it is ok, I try to direct them to do something about it. If you want it more do something to get it more. Compete your butt of to show that is what we should do. Just make sense of that, try to make it into a proactive deal instead of something that you sit on and you cant act on. To say that it doesn't exist here that is wrong. Reggie wants the ball every single snap, Matt would like to throw bombs every chance he gets, LenDale wants the ball, everybody wants it. That is awesome. That is what you want. You don't want them not to want it. You want them to give it to them and more. So when you do give it to them they will do something with it. It is really clear to me. That is the culture we are living in. One of the things that is really important is for other guys to respect the other guys they are playing with so they aren't out there to try to knock them down.'
'We are going to try to see if we can get him back into practice format here. Today we will be real careful with him and hopefully tomorrow we can get some work out of him. We think he is going to be alright.'
What would it take for someone to beat USC
'They have to play better then we do. They have to find ways to do things right longer then we do. That is how we do it on the other end. We try to do things longer then the other team can. In respect to the game: the game can get you sometimes. The ball can bounce screwy, the call can be made, the wind blows, things can happen. We have to extend beyond the fact that sometimes the game can get you. There have also been games where you have 500 yards on offense and the other team has 250 but because of the way the ball bounced or a missed snap on a punt, the game took a different turn. We have to play over and above those factors always. I hope that day when somebody gets us, I hope we played really well on that day and we made them play great.'
On UCLA's special teams with Maurice Drew
'He is awesome, he is an awesome returner. The best punt returner in the country. They scheme real well to go along with that. We just have to kick the ball in positions where he can't get his opportunities. To kick the ball 60 yards is not a good idea. What happened to us last year, we kicked the ball so far that the whole coverage thing got spread out, and they did a great job covering us and blocking. We have to control the flight of the ball and put it where we want to put it and not give them a chance to get going. Nobody slows him down.
'David has done a really nice job. We have worked ever since Desmond Reed was injured. Desmond was the guy that finished games for us, David and Brandon Hancock have been the guys who have been getting the ball in practice. Those guys are ready to go. Both of those guys run fast and hard and big, I don't have any hesitation playing those guys. If LenDale couldn't play, those guys are playing.'